In a study conducted by Indiana University School of Medicine and reported in USA Today, researchers found that the flavor of beer alone is enough to trigger the brain to release dopamine, the chemical associated with pleasure and reward.
The participants in the study received tiny spritzes of either Gatorade or their preferred beer (15 ml total over 15 minutes), so they were able to taste the beer without any intoxicating effects. The researchers monitored the participants’ brain activity with positron emission tomography (PET scans), and the scans showed significantly more dopamine activity when the participants tasted beer instead of Gatorade.
Alcohol and other drugs of abuse have long been linked to the release of dopamine, but this study is the first to show that the brain responds to the flavor of beer alone. Research has consistently shown that sensory cues such as tastes, smells, or the sight of a bar can cause cravings and relapses in recovering alcoholics, and this study furthers the idea that dopamine may play a significant role in cravings.
The study also found that men who had a family history of alcoholism had the most pronounced dopamine reaction to the taste of beer. David Karaken, a senior author of the study and a professor in IU School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology, notes that a heightened dopamine response may be an inherited risk factor for alcoholism.
The Knoxville, TN DUI defense lawyers at Oberman and Rice try to stay current on developments and research on alcohol-related topics. Awareness of the many underlying causes and effects of alcohol use enables us to have a better understanding of the many issues at play when we represent clients. We believe this type of research is helpful in discovering why some people crave beer. This will lead to a decline in people driving under the influence (DUI/DWI) in Tennessee.